On this first day of the 2020 legislative session, big differences over the dollar amount of a bonding bill for state public works projects. Some Democrats are talking three-and-a-half billion dollars — likely the largest figure ever proposed in Minnesota. House Speaker Melissa Hortman won’t quote a number but does say, “We should have the largest responsible-size bonding bill that we can have.”
Senate Republicans want a much smaller bonding bill, probably under a billion dollars. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says, “Focus on wastewater infrastructure, roads and bridges.” Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Susan Kent responds she doesn’t oppose putting transportation projects in a bonding bill “but we need to be clear that we cannot bond our way out of our serious problems with our infrastructure and our roads and our bridges in this state.”
Governor Tim Walz in the past has talked about a gas tax increase. That will get no traction with Republicans, who want part of the budget surplus to go for tax relief.